Eight concepts marketers can use from the subscription box boom

Subscription boxes are without a doubt experiencing an enormous boom in business. There are subscription boxes for every treat or trinket you can imagine, including dog treats, workout gear, baby goods, tech gadgets, and so on.

Many of these products are not especially exotic or exciting, but the user experiences are creating new, disruptive businesses that consumers love.

Examining just the women’s fitness segment for a moment, there are oodles of options such as, Fytso, Fabletics, FITBOX, etc. with momentum climbing as established big brands create new business models.

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One of the latest is Adidas’ Avenue A offering, touted as a “curated, athletic apparel subscription program where style and performance collide.” This is also where manufacturing and smart direct-to-consumer marketing collide.

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It’s clear that consumers are craving subscription boxes, so let’s review eight distinctive traits that all marketers can learn from:

1. The assumptive close

Subscription box businesses begin with the assumptive close.

The experience itself asserts that this is something the consumer is going to want, over and over again, and the promise of good things to come fuels the entire experience.

Any marketer can use a similar approach aligned with the consumer lifecycle. Keep the enthusiasm strong by letting consumers know right from the beginning that you’re going to be there to provide what they need over time.

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2. Fast data

Data is at the foundation of subscription box marketing. They ask questions up front that convey they’re committed to a long-term relationship.

Women’s fitness gear boxes, such as Fytso, kick-off the relationship with the consumer via deep data gathering.

They ask about sizes, activities, goals, budget, color choices, and much more. In essence, they collect as much data about their consumer as possible.

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Plus, it makes it relatively easy and fun for the consumer to provide this data in a visually compelling way. And, they couple explicit data with the consumer’s behavioral data.

Needless to say, data is the fuel that keeps the relationship relevant and contextual from the start, as well as continuous across the consumer lifecycle.

Every marketing team can explore ways to make data gathering simple and exciting, and then make the data actionable as quickly as possible to drive consumer engagement.

3.  Curated collections

Each and every subscription box promises a carefully curated experience based on discovery done by the box brand, with the consumer granting the right to receive pre-selected products.

Consumers benefit from the expertise of someone selecting the right product for them based on their profile, and something that aligns with the season or with their needs.

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BirchBox and Graze have mastered this art with carefully chosen products based on the consumer’s profile and feedback.

Look for ways to curate products for your consumers to enrich their experience.

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4. An influential social community

A common trait across successful subscription box companies is a vibrant social community contributing positive WOM (word of mouth).

Building a community requires coordination across channels and harnessing user-generated content to inspire new, like-minded acquisitions.

Ipsy  is a leader in creating a powerful and influential community across social venues, including a large YouTube following, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Consider how your brand can build a more influential community to amplify messaging and gain social credibility.

5. Video impact

Bringing the subscription unboxing experience to life via video is a key element to the the subscription box phenomenon.

Unboxing videos entice geeks and gamers with the surprise elements of new boxes such as for Marvel Collector Corps and LootCrate.

And, who can forget the bravado of Dollar Shave Club in the 2012 video.

Today, every marketing team can learn from this, and should be leveraging video in some way. With mobile engagement on the rise and mobile video traffic accounting for 55% of mobile data traffic in 2015, it’s becoming more of a mandate.

Examine and learn from the power of a simple unboxing video, and harness it to drive engagement.

6. Consumer convenience

Enough said! Curated products just for you…that you may have never discovered otherwise…arrive conveniently at your home! What more could you ask for as a busy individual?

Convenience is powerful. Amazon has mastered this, and every business needs to focus on consumer convenience to compete these days.

7. Consistency

Consistency is clear with subscription boxes — the consumer knows to expect to pay X amount each month to receive a box at roughly the same time each month.

In turn, subscription box businesses benefit from a predictable revenue stream. It’s a simple and clear model that made the Dollar Shave Cluba booming business, selling products that are readily available everywhere.

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Harnessing consistency can provide value in the form of predictability for consumers and therefore, ongoing business results.

8. Truth and trust

Trust is a major factor for any subscription box given the information exchange, including payment information, and the commitment to do business on an ongoing basis.

Terms and conditions need to be clear from the start, particularly with gaining the individual’s permission.

Although Fabletics initially struggled on this front, they not only overcame the struggles, but also rebuilt consumer trust.

Recently, the conpany  announced that it will be opening 100 Fabletics  stores, in sharp contrast to many retail brands that are reducing store space. That’s the power of building a strong online brand and maintaining consumer trust!

In summary

As marketers looking for ways to differentiate consumer experiences in 2016, learning from the fundamental elements of subscription box businesses success is important.

The box boom capitalizes on key marketing principals that are building new disruptive brands that truly resonate with consumers today.

Which of these concepts can your business use to boost consumer engagement and results?

Catherine Magoffin is Director of Strategic Services at Selligent

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